"Slow down and watch for pedestrians."
"Use crosswalks. Wait for the walk signal."
"Ride with traffic and stop at red lights."
These are just some of the important safety messages that will be spread via mass media to millions of Washington area motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists between now and the Thanksgiving Day holiday as part of the Transportation Planning Board's twice-yearly Street Smart pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign.
The campaign officially kicks off this Friday, November 7. Already, dozens of area transit buses and bus shelters have donned Street Smart's award-winning "Tired Faces" outdoor advertisements calling on motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike to be on the lookout for one another and to take steps to reduce the likelihood of collisions.
The ads feature images of individuals whose faces have been symbolically blemished by a tire tread to call attention to the dangers confronting pedestrians and bicyclists.
Later this month, once the campaign is in full swing, those same messages will be broadcast on area radio and television stations, and in numerous local newspapers. Street-level marketing teams will wear posters, hand out safety tip cards, and engage one-on-one with pedestrians and bicyclists. And ads on the tops of gasoline pumps, a component of the campaign added last year, will aim to reach motorists in parts of the region where the outdoor advertising on buses and bus shelters is less prevalent.
Each year, the fall Street Smart campaign is timed to occur around the end of Daylight Saving Time, when more people are commuting home or running after-work errands in the dark.
Street Smart got its start 13 years ago as a cooperative effort by local, state, and federal agencies to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths in the Washington region.
At that time, about 80 to 85 pedestrians were killed each year in collisions with motor vehicles, and more than 2,000 each year suffered injuries. About 5 to 10 bicyclists a year were killed, with 600 to 700 injured annually.
The latest safety data show that the number of fatalities has fallen somewhat, especially in the last two years. In 2013, 65 pedestrians and 7 bicyclists were killed in collisions with motor vehicles.
Injuries to pedestrians were also down in recent years, falling below 2,000 for the first time since 1999. Injuries to bicyclists, however, rose to around 900 in 2012, the highest that number has been since at least 1999.
The official kick-off for this fall's Street Smart campaign will take place this Friday, November 7, at a fire station near Howard University in the District of Columbia. Local law enforcement personnel, elected leaders, and transportation officials will gather to announce the beginning of the multi-week campaign, which will also include stepped-up enforcement of traffic safety laws.